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Don’t forget your New Year’s resolutions!

Three, two, one. ... the countdown to a New Year has begun. It is time to bid farewell to one year and welcome another and all the potential it brings. It is also a good time to reflect on what we want to achieve in both our private and professional lives. January is time when many people make personal resolutions. The tradition of making New Year’s resolutions dates back thousands of years in the Western culture, for Native Americans it is newer tradition, one that may or may not have caught on yet but certainly a tradition worth considering.

If you are like most people, you may give some thought to changes you might want to make in your life each New Year, but how many times have you actually followed through with it? “This year I plan to lose 10 pounds,” or “This year I will quit smoking.” Sound familiar? Often the focus is on making personal resolutions but it is important to include our professional interests as well; “This year I will start my own business,” or “This year I will work at getting a promotion.”

The New Year is a great time to reflect on our professional situation and make special commitments to improve or change unproductive behavior. For the modern Native professional we often face many challenges. Our workplace dynamics, what is expected of us by our family and communities. The disparities in our social and political environments, may lead to some pretty big obstacles to maneuver as we strive to achieve professional success. However, taking a more proactive approach to our lives might be the solution to overcoming some of these challenges, and what better time than now?

The process for developing resolutions is a simple one and not unlike the goal-setting process. It is a little more abstract, but in fact, may be more powerful. And it is certainly a good place to start when implementing personal change. Establishing your professional New Year’s resolutions can be as easy as 1, 2, 3. This simple process is something that can easily be worth your time, with big payoffs, and with commitment and hard work, you can achieve them in the upcoming year.

A simple formula for setting your New Year’s resolutions might include the following:

  • Step 1: Begin by assessing your current situation, behaviors and professional interests. Is this where you had anticipated your life to be? Are you happy where you are at? What more would you like? Are there any behaviors keeping you from progressing in your professional life? Are there any behaviors or habits you would like to change? Identify ways you can improve your situation. Look for things that you have control over and things that you can actively change.
  • Step 2: Select three to five different accomplishments or changes you want to make in your professional life this upcoming year. Make sure they are achievable. Include both simple and difficult. Choosing only difficult changes or behaviors might cause stress and set you up for failure. The best ones might be those that have the most impact.
  • Step 3: Commit to them! Declare your plan to yourself, to your family or even to your co-workers. (They are often the ones to keep you on track throughout the year). Write them down and post them somewhere you will see them, your desk, your day planner, your bathroom mirror. Having a visual reminder will help keep you dedicated to your new changes.

Considering all the opportunities available to the modern Native professional and the potential we have to affect great change in our communities and tribes. It is important to consistently look for ways to improve ourselves and strive to become our best. The New Year presents a great opportunity to make positive changes in our lives. With a simple plan and a lot of commitment you will find success in the upcoming year!

Lucinda Hughes-Juan has many years of teaching and training in the fields of business and management, with a focus on the cultural dynamics in Native businesses and organizations. She is an enrolled member of the Tohono O’odham Nation. She holds an MBA in global management, and is currently a Ph.D. candidate in business and organizational management. E-mail her at